Stimulants

You may have heard the term “uppers.” This is the street name for various drugs that are classified as “stimulants.” While types of stimulants vary, they all provide users with the same overall effect of increased energy and alertness levels. Some stimulants are relatively harmless in low doses, such as caffeine which is found in soda and coffee. There are some prescription medications that are stimulants, used for treatment of conditions such as ADHD, e.g., Adderall, and Ritalin. There are some stimulants that are not only illegal, but dangerous and highly addictive, such as cocaine, Ecstasy or amphetamines.

Common stimulants include:

  • Caffeine
  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Amphetamines

Stimulant Use Symptoms

Stimulants target the central nervous system, increasing a person’s heart rate and breathing, and raising their blood pressure. A person may have more energy, be more talkative and alert, and have a decreased appetite. However, users may also develop symptoms such as restlessness, anxiousness, and moodiness.

Addiction To Stimulants

The reasons someone may become addicted to stimulants varies. For some people, they may take prescription stimulants to treat a condition, but if they don’t use the prescription correctly, or use too much, they can become addicted. People may start taking prescription stimulants without an actual prescription too — for example, some teenagers and college students take drugs like Adderall to enhance their focus and energy for school or performance in. Repeated use raises their risk of developing a stimulant dependence or becoming addicted to stimulants.

Then there are illegal stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine (also known as meth), which people take for the explicit purpose of getting high. They may smoke, snort or inject the drug, and may become addicted within one or two uses.

With repeated use of stimulants, a person may develop a stimulant dependence or an addiction to stimulants. That means their bodies need the drug to function to do things like produce dopamine, as their brain stops production on its own. If they don’t take the drug, many people feel any of the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Sedation
  • Depressed mood
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Decreased attention
  • Irritable
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased appetite

To feel better or even just normal, people take the drug again. But over time, the body develops a tolerance to the drug, which means a person has to take more and more just to feel the same effects. This can lead to long-term stimulant abuse and addiction, where a person’s entire life revolves around getting more of the drug.

There are also long-term health effects that a person may develop, including:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain
  • High blood pressure, leading to heart attacks, strokes and death
  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Destruction of tissues in nose if snorted
  • Respiratory failure if smoked
  • Infectious diseases and abscesses, such as HIV, if injected
  • Malnutrition, weight loss due to repressed appetite
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Gastrointestinal complications
  • Sexual problems, reproductive damage and infertility
  • Disorientation, apathy, confusion and exhaustion
  • Irritability and mood disturbances
  • Increased frequency of risky behavior
  • Psychosis
  • Severe depression

Once someone develops an addiction to stimulants, they may find it next to impossible to stop taking their drug of choice on their own. In fact, it may even be dangerous for them too, as some of the withdrawal symptoms can be deadly. A person needs to seek out stimulant addiction treatment from medical professionals.

Treatment For Stimulant Addiction

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for stimulants, but it usually does include medical detox and/or therapy. Medical detox is the process of ridding the body of drugs, while a person’s initial withdrawal symptoms are treated by a medical professional and they are monitored for any life-threatening issues. Depending on the drug a person abused, detox can last anywhere from days to a few weeks.

Not everyone will need medical detox and detox is only the first step of recovery. A person will need therapy to understand the nature of addiction and learn the skills they need to live drug-free. A person may also need treatment for any co-occurring disorders they have, such as depression, which can affect their recovery and make them relapse if not treated.

After their initial treatment, a person often needs long-term supportive care, like a 12-step program, as they make their journey to living a drug-free, healthy life.

Treatment For Stimulant Addiction At Sovereign Health

If you or a loved one is addicted to stimulants, the stimulant treatment program at Sovereign Health at El Paso, Texas, provides effective treatment, therapy and continuing care resources. Before entering our program, our patients undergo a physical and mental evaluation that diagnoses their illness and any co-occurring disorders. Based on this evaluation, our patients receive a personalized treatment plan can change as needed and may include medical detox, dual diagnosis treatment and therapy.

To find out more about our stimulant treatment program at Sovereign Health, contact our 24/7 helpline.

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